Because for all of Jay-Z’s steely cool and expert control, this was something new. Filling Madison Square Garden is old hat by now, but ascending to one of New York’s most hallowed stages without soft-pedaling his act is another thing altogether. Backed by an orchestra conducted by Jeri Lynne Johnson (of the Black Pearl Chamber Orchestra), and also the Illadelphonics, an ensemble featuring Questlove of the Roots and the singer Bilal among others, Jay-Z proved that the Carnegie stage is agnostic.A question about Jay's charity
That meant songs about drug dealing, about growing up impoverished, about questionable behavior toward women, about triumphing over adversity through hustle and capitalism. Mostly he stuck to mid- and late-career hits, the songs that made him something more than just the most important rapper in New York...
The concerts last night and tonight, as well as a fundraising carnival last September that raised more than $1 million, suggest Jay-Z is stepping up his support.
However, as The Daily reported yesterday, in 2010, it raised only $218,849, with most coming from a company owned by a fan. It distributed $124,000 in scholarships that year, plus $23,744 on college tours for potential scholarship recipients and $20,223 for a toy drive in Bed-Stuy.
Shouldn't it be enough for stars to donate their services to raise money? Maybe, maybe not.
The Daily quoted philanthropy advisor Trevor Neilson as saying that, on the one hand, Jay-Z wields influence in other ways, but other starts, like Shakira, both promote causes but also make donations to their own nonprofit organizations.
Of course, Jay-Z's performance at a charitable event drives more publicity than a quiet donation of his not inconsiderable cash. But I wouldn't be surprised to see Jay-Z, once he opens the Barclays Center in September, make some more strategic contributions in Brooklyn.